9:00am EDT, Wellington Florida.
Ride along through a typical training session with Yagya Rider Gabi and her jumping partner, Mickey.
"A typical ride with Mickey consists of some flatwork that not only works his body, but also works his mind."
He is an extremely intelligent horse, so it is essential to occupy his mind as well as his muscles or he can get a little bored.
I usually start out my warmup by working at the walk for about 5 minutes. I use my lower leg and seat to put him in front of the leg by engaging his hind end, and pushing his body into my hand so he begins to accept the aids. Within this work at the walk, I do some mild/moderate bending work to make sure he is loose throughout his body before I move on to the trot.
Next, we usually spend the first 5 minutes at a loose trot and canter with minimal interference with the hand. I allow him to just loosen up his body and move in his natural way which gives him the opportunity to start out super relaxed.
"A relaxed horse is receptive to instruction, and performs better as well. "
The next step is to focus on what his body is doing. I begin asking him to accept the aids by adding more leg pressure and shortening my reins. With that I’m looking for power, not speed. I begin to ask him to do more challenging things, such as extensions, collections, circles and lateral movements. I slowly work my way into asking these flatwork questions at all three gaits.
When Mickey begins to be responsive to my leg while remaining relaxed throughout his mind and body, I allow him 5-10 minutes to stretch as long and low as he will go at the canter and trot. Once I come to the walk, I give him a big pat for being such a good boy.
The best performances I have with Mickey always start with a simple warmup at the show when I put him in front of the leg at the show. And that warm up is so simple because we really focus on doing our homework when we are at home.
"It is important I stay consistent at home with what I ask him to practice so when I get to the ring, we are well studied and ready to give it everything we got.”